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2012 NFL Free Agency: Cleveland Browns 2012 Offseason Needs

1. Wide Receiver

It seems like every year, the Browns try again and again to find a top receiver, and they keep on missing. Greg Little seems to have plenty of potential, as he was second among rookies with 61 receptions, and 5th in yards at 709. If the Browns are able to snatch up a legitimate number one receiver, they could be in really good shape after Josh Cribbs had undoubtedly his best season in the NFL as a receiver, catching 41 passes for 518 yards. He could be a really dangerous slot receiver going forward, and Little would make a fantastic number two possession receiver. It makes you wonder if Cleveland might go after a guy like Justin Blackmon with their first pick to complete the receiver group.

2. Running Back

The Browns could/should lose Peyton Hillis this offseason, thus confirming that the Madden cover curse is real (if you believe that sort of thing). All kidding aside, the Browns have a bunch of injury-riddled guys in their running backs stable, an area of the team that was supposed to be a major strength this season with the return of Montario Hardesty to the lineup. Turns out, Hardesty might be a little more green than advertised, and Peyton Hillis has a really good chance of leaving. The Browns want to bring him back, but at a reduced price. Hillis thinks he could probably get a better contract elsewhere, but he wants the best deal Cleveland can offer. It’s a messy marriage that is likely to end with Hillis playing elsewhere in 2012. That being said, I think it would be an absolute perfect fit for the Browns to take Trent Richardson with the 4th pick, but I may be in the minority with that opinion.

3. Offensive Line

Offensive line is not a huge issue area for the Browns, but they could definitely stand to upgrade the right side of their line. Especially if they are going to pursue another quarterback, ensuring that he is well-protected in a division full of great defenses is a must. Tony Pashos simply isn’t cutting it anymore, and there is a chance, obviously, that Eric Steinbach won’t be the same player when he comes back from injury. This is a team that had only 77 first downs running the ball and finished 29th in total yards.

4. Cornerback

I think the Browns have a solid pair of young safeties in Usama Young and T.J. Ward (only played 8 games), but Joe Haden could certainly use a running mate at the cornerback position. Mike Adams stepped up and led the team with three interceptions when T.J. Ward went down with injury, but he is a free agent, so the secondary needs some upgrading overall. The most telling stat here is that the Browns had just nine interceptions, and their top cornerback in that area is Sheldon Brown who had two picks on the year and is going to be 33 next month. Morris Claiborne would be a good choice with their first draft pick.

5. Re-sign Phil Dawson

One of the best kickers in the league needs to be a priority this offseason.

6. More Pass Rush

Jabaal Sheard looks like he was a solid pickup in the second round last year, Phil Taylor looks like a keeper, and the Browns have a solid defensive line overall, but they could use more pass rushers. Sheard led the team with 8.5 sacks, and Rubin and Taylor combined for nine. If the right guy is available, the Browns could really fortify their pass rush with that second first round pick, or their high second round pick. They have a lot of assets to play with in free agency as well, so looking into signing a guy like Cliff Avril or Mario Williams would be fantastic as well.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.